THE PROVERBS OF SOLOMON
“The blessing of the LORD makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it!” – Proverbs 10 verse 22 (RSV)
All that we have read so far in the first nine chapters, and I have put into my own words, via my musings and impressions, have been merely a pre-amble to what follows. At the end of Chapter Nine I was struggling to think of a strategy that would make sure I entered the “House of Wisdom,” it seemed possible to me that those without wisdom could easily find themselves inside the “House of Folly,” a place I didn’t want you or I to go!
As a scene setter I have now found this very helpful as an introduction to Chapter Ten, because I feel like I have had the choice made easy for me. Here at last is the wisdom I was seeking all laid out before me to eat and drink, with no fear in my heart I have come to the wrong “House.” Nevertheless, I am going to be honest with you the reader of these articles and if I disagree with the wisdom contained here I will tell you and explain why.
The Wealth In Wisdom
In the first section of this chapter, we have a kind of rhyming couplet contrasting the wisdom of the wise with the foolishness of the fool. The first part tells us tells us who is wise the second part of the “rhyme” tells us about the fool. It’s almost like having the occupants of the two houses in Chapter Nine revealed to us so we can differentiate between them. Maybe you can do what I did and measure yourself against these descriptions and see who you are.
In many things I do judge myself to be wise and yet according to these first twenty two verses there is one area of my life where I thought I was being wise and I wasn’t. When I typed out the heading for this part of my article (all the headings are taken directly from the RCV – the Revised Standard Version of the scriptures) I thought it might refer to wealth other than money, and that the wisdom it shared about money would be consistent with my own beliefs.
Sadly my wisdom on money, according to Chapter Ten is foolishness! I based my belief around money on what I thought to be the teachings of Jesus. That it was more difficult for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. He said “the poor you have with you always” and was sad when the Rich Young Ruler wouldn’t sell up and follow him. I therefore decided to stay as poor as possible!
I don’t think I was ever told that we were poor because the rich were evil; but I assumed that because my both my parents worked more than one job and that they were diligent in their labours, that it could only mean one thing. That the rich were idle people who made others work hard to create great wealth for them, how evil can you get! Or maybe because we were church folks, that anyone who had money must have morals that stank and did deals that people like us didn’t.
In this world I grew up in you can see why I wanted nothing to do with filthy lucre and ill-gained wealth. I didn’t think it possible for you to gain great wealth and not use people or live always with a guilty conscience! I had been told that God had cursed all human beings in the Garden of Eden, when He said “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3 verse 19 – RSV)
So, no chance to becoming rich without being a bad person; and a life of hard labour ahead, just like my Mum and Dad. They were excellent people and despite buying their own home didn’t amount to much financially. They were rich in many other more important to them things, like love, family, friendships, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control and I wanted to be like them! looked up to them as people and I still do!
And yet my families wisdom and mine about money has been wrong all along, we have been foolish in holding the beliefs that we have. I have been told that riches are seen by those of the Jewish faith to be a blessing from God; I dismissed such a notion because why would God bless those he had cursed to hard labour with wealth. Riches from God would be an escape from His curse and that is something He wouldn’t do, go against Himself.
Proverbs Ten, verses 4,15 and 22 all seem to be approving of wealth and showing it to be the blessing of God. Verse 16 seems to back up part of my philosophy, but following on so soon after the contents of verse 15 to quote it by itself would detract from the full meaning of what the chapter is saying. I have read the Christian Scriptures many times in the earlier years of my life and on two separate occasions all the way through; how did I overlook these three verses?
Verse 4 suggests thats that if we work in a particular way we can’t help but become rich. Diligence is the way to go! Verse 15 tells us that poverty is ruinous to the poor mans life and the rich mans wealth seems to be spoken of in a very positive way. Verse 22 is the killer verse for me, it leaves us in no doubt whatsoever that the way to get properly rich is through the blessing of the LORD because there is no sorrow attached to that type of wealth.
Verse five suggests that hard work will be rewarded and that sleeping when the harvest needs to be collected is shameful! My Dad often talked about “Making hay whilst the sun shines” and my personal development training informed me that “the opportunity of a lifetime, only exists for the lifetime of the opportunity. I believe that it is harvest-time in my life. That I had planted many crops, sowed much good will and the time has come to reap the rewards.
Verse eight encourages me to do so, to collect the harvest; because once you have received wisdom, and I most certainly have today, you have to act on it or the result will be ruinous to me. Walking with integrity, speaking words of life, storing up wisdom is the way to go. Working my way to wealth from this day on, to provide for my needs, the needs of my family and the wider world is the mission I accept willingly, maybe you would like to join me in these activities?
Fear Of The LORD Prolongs Life
When I see the word LORD in the scriptures I see it differently to the way I saw it in my Bible College days. Back then LORD in capitals was an English representation of the tetragrammaton, the vowelless word for God in Ancient Hebrew YHWH or JHVH. It was described as the unpronounceable word for God, because no-one was allowed to say His name. When I see LORD or God now, I think of the energy force that sustains the universe in all its simplicity, diversity and power.
For example “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (see Proverbs 9 verse 10) for me now means that we must respect life energy and creative force wherever we encounter it, to not do so may be perilous for us. Back then in Bible school God was described in terms of His omniscience (all knowing), omnipresence (being everywhere) omnipotence (all powerful) and him being eternal (having no beginning or ending); today for me God is the source!
The final ten verses, please read them yourself, seem to be a precursor to the words of Jesus I learned in a Sunday School song “The wise man built his house upon the rock and the rain came tumbling down. The rain came down and the floods came up, but the house on the rock stood firm. The foolishness built his house upon the sand, and the rain came tumbling down. The rain came down and the floods came up and the house on the sand fell flat!” Enough said?
Love and light to you from Andrew <3
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